I often reflect on those particular moments, in museums and galleries, in which my breath was taken away. This occured at the Frick, where I was reprimanded by a gaurd for absent-mindedly climbing over antique furniture to get a closer look at Turner’s interpretation of light on water. Stubbs’ ‘Whistlejacket’, Caravaggio’s ‘John the Baptist’ and most Goyas I’ve seen have robbed me of breath and set my heart racing. 20th century masters as well, such as Hockney, Thiebaud and Guston, have had a similar impact. (At this point, my chauvinism presents itself all too clearly. I would argue, however, that were there even a quarter as many women represented in these collections as their male counterparts, I should have experienced this sensation at their bidding just as well.) For me, Guston’s later work is not so much about its cartoon-like material, but rather his manipulation of the brush. I can’t recall the names of his paintings, but I can still see every stroke that paralyzed me for nearly an hour at a time. And upon seeing such a stroke, it’s apparent that he knew, before lifting his brush from the canvas, that he had just struck the fatal blow- not the final one, but the one that just made that painting superior to probably ninety-percent of all other paintings executed in the same century. These moments are the ultimate for me. Every feeling rushes in at once. I’m overjoyed at the chance to see it, comforted by its reality and relieved that something so simple is all it takes to feel the most alive. Then I’m overwhelmed by the realization that I may paint the rest of my life and never make a mark like that one. (A supreme brushtroke being, in many ways, like the best of lovers.) I neither understand nor question it. I only know that there is no going back. I intend to keep stroking until it kills me.